1. Letter
  2. Middle East & Iran

Faith Leaders Call for U.S. Leadership to Engage Peace Process in Israel/Palestine

September 17, 2019


On the heels of the Israeli election and with the U.S. Administration preparing to release the political component of its peace plan for Israel/Palestine, 22 Christian leaders, including FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall, wrote to President Trump outlining their recommendations for U.S. policies that would help bring about a just and lasting end to the conflict in Israel-Palestine.

A full copy of the letter, including signatories, is below.


September 12, 2019

Dear Mr. President,

Finding a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is an aspiration shared by church leaders in the United States, Israel, the occupied Palestinian territories, and around the globe. As leaders of diverse church communions and religious organizations, we ardently support robust U.S. leadership in coordination and direct engagement with all the relevant parties to bring about an end to this conflict in a way that addresses the human rights concerns of Israelis and Palestinians—Jews, Christians and Muslims. We hold fast to the understanding that all people are equal in God’s eyes, deserving of human rights and dignity.

While we believe the US administration must play a key role in helping negotiate a resolution to the conflict, we harbor grave reservations not only about many of the specifics of the economic plan that was released in late June in Bahrain, but also about many of the fundamental assumptions that underlie it. Without a just political settlement, efforts to build up the Palestinian economy alone are an empty gesture that is neither sustainable nor viable in the long term.

While acknowledging the pressing needs facing the Palestinian economy laid out in your administration’s “Peace to Prosperity: A New Vision for the Palestinian People”, we maintain that these needs cannot be adequately addressed unless their root causes are properly diagnosed and addressed. Underdevelopment in the Palestinian territories is not the result of natural market forces; it is the direct product of over fifty years of Israeli military occupation and policies explicitly designed to stifle the Palestinian economy. Even the most thorough and well-planned economic development proposals will ultimately fail if the political conditions needed for peace are absent.

A truly viable peace can only be achieved by lifting the Gaza blockade, by ending the Israeli occupation of territories captured in 1967, through the realization of Palestinian self-determination, the recognition of Jerusalem as a shared capital for Israelis and Palestinians and the recognition and fulfillment of the rights of Palestinian refugees. Such a peace can only be reached in consultation with leaders representing both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

In July, as the Economic Conference in Bahrain was underway, a group of Christian leaders from the U.S. and Palestine met in Washington, DC to discuss how to steps we can undertake to help bring about peace in Israel/Palestine. The statement from the gathering is enclosed with this letter. We hope it may be of value as your administration continues its work.

We understand your administration may soon release its peace plan for Israel/Palestine. It is our hope that in future efforts to reach a political settlement between the parties, your administration will fully engage with representatives from the Palestinian Authority as you have engaged with representatives from the government of Israel. We ask that your administration abstains from taking any further unilateral actions that could compromise the ability of future negotiators to reach a solution and encourage the Israeli government to cease all settlement construction, demolition of Palestinian homes, and to refrain from annexations. We again reiterate that the necessary conditions for achieving a political solution are not a mystery. Just as the secure existence of Israel is of fundamental importance for Israelis, so too is the right to self-determination the most basic principle upon which Palestinians rightfully insist any future peace deal must rest.

Respectfully,

Joyce Ajlouny
General Secretary
American Friends Service Committee

Eddy Alemán
General Secretary Reformed Church in America

His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian
Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate
Diocese Armenian Church of America (Eastern)

J Ron Byler
Executive Director
Mennonite Central Committee U.S.

Rev. Dr. Mae Elise Cannon
Executive Director
Churches for Middle East Peace

Carole Collins
Director of Operations and Finance
Alliance of Baptists

Beth Nelson Chase
Executive Director
Bright Stars of Bethlehem

Rev. Dr. John Dorhauer
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Rev. Dr. Susan Henry-Crowe
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society The United Methodist Church

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate
The Episcopal Church

Susan Gunn
Director
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Rev. Julia Brown Karimu
President
Division of Overseas Ministries, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Dr. Eli S. McCarthy
Director of Justice and Peace
Conference of Major Superiors of Men

The Rev. Dr. Betsy Miller
President
Moravian Church Northern Province

The Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
The Presbyterian Church USA

Rev. Teresa Hord Owens
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada

Diane Randall
Executive Secretary
Friends Committee on National Legislation

Rev. David Steele
General Secretary
Church of the Brethren

Dr. Steve Timmermans
Executive Director
Christian Reformed Church in North America

Rev. Dr. Karen Georgia Thompson
Associate General Minister
Wider Church Ministries and Operations, United Church of Christ Co-Executive, Global Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and United Church of Christ

Nikki Toyama-Szeto
Executive Director
Evangelicals for Social Action/The Sider Center

Jim Winkler
President and General Secretary
National Council of Churches